Light One Candle

Do you think that sounds trite? Has the concept of lighting one candle become cliche? I’ve tried it. It works. I started this morning by reading a post from a friend: 5 Minutes of Love. It is an even simpler idea, and doesn’t even take a match.

Within the world of blogging, I’ve learned that most posts are read days, or even months, after they’re posted. So, I won’t require latecomers to scroll back through volumes of news items to recall what happened this week in America, China, and probably other less well-publicized places. The truth of the world is that there’s always been recent sad news. That’s why I like Sue’s idea. Rather than only focus on the necessary expression of grief, she asks everyone to take 5 minutes concentrating on love of the world. Simple. Positive. And potentially accumulative to world-changing proportions.

If you stop reading now to practice 5 minutes of love, I won’t mind. I’ll be pleased.

I was raised to be proper and stoic. That can be valuable in difficult times. As one friend described me, it allows me to be diplomatic and graceful under pressure. She obviously wasn’t here when I wast trying to have a conversation with my mortgage company. It took decades of introspection, and a few months of counseling, to begin to uncover the emotions that lived behind that demeanor. Life is different now. I wonder how my friends from my old life will react to the new me. Luckily, the diplomacy and demeanor remain, but now I am more willing to set them aside to be passionate and exuberant.

But there is much work to be done. Another friend has even incorporated the following phrase into his artwork, “Here is a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: If you are alive, it isn’t.” His poster is on my kitchen wall as a reminder of that and many other bits of insight and wisdom. (Hey Windwalker, got a link to your poster? Put it in the comments section.)

Life on Whidbey is life in a small community. To yet again quote from someone else, in this case one of my favorite authors; “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased . . .” – Spider Robinson. While I am more emotionally open than ever, I can be struck speechless at the news of a friend’s loss. It is frustrating, but rather than live within the frustration I decided to take a small action. I lit a candle.

One candle

Lighting a candle is a simple act. Strike a match, light the wick, and create enough light to, well, not to do much really. Can you imagine living by candlelight? It is romantic, but candlelight is hard to use for reading or working.

Facebook is the new news ticker. Calls for support show up there before any phone tree goes into action. A while ago while sitting at my computer, I learned about the death of a friend’s child. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to write. I choked up but nothing came out. I lit a candle.

Light a candle. And for a few moments, 5 minutes sound about right, feel. Feel that emotion I want spread out into the world. I don’t know if it works like the power of prayer, or if I just do it to make myself feel better; but, I know that my Self feels better afterwards. And I know that when I meet my friend in the grocery store or on the sidewalk, I’m more likely to hug a bit tighter and longer if that’s what they need and want. No words required.

This blog is about money and life. Regular readers know the story so far. As money has temporarily diminished, a lot of what had been filling my life has sloughed away. I’ve been frugal for decades, and embraced voluntary simplicity and simple living, and have now experienced forced simplicity and essential living. I’ve known, and now lived the realization that happiness doesn’t require money. As I learned on my walk across Scotland, and subsequently wrote about in my book, “Every moment contains every emotion. Choose.

It doesn’t take much to be happy. Paying all of my bills in a way that I can sustain indefinitely, would ease the vast majority of my stress. But, aside from those money issues, I’ve found that simple things like Sue suggests, simple things like lighting one candle or enjoying a meal at home with a friend, can be as marvelous regardless of my financial net worth.

There are times when I go out into the darkness and curse (well, shout really strong language) at the universe. I missed a great chance for it the last two nights. (Presents must be shipped. Pig roasts must be attended. With joy in both cases.) Cultus Bay, the bit of the Salish Sea at the edge of my neighborhood, empties about a mile of tide flats at low tide. In December that happens near midnight for a few nights. December also means storms. I’ve wandered out there through tide puddles, into the wind and rain, in the cold, and had my Lieutenant Dan moments. (Watch Forrest Gump.)

I’ve cursed the darkness. I’ve asked uncountable variations of; “Why?” I welcome the release, and ask the wind to scatter and disperse the chaos. I apologize to the city of Edmonds on the far shore for any of it that may upset them. My muscles welcome the release, but I rarely find answers.

And then I walk home, change into warm and dry clothes, and usually light a candle. And then I relax.

From experience I can tell you that it really is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

With that in mind, and with one candle already lit on the hearth, I think I’ll light a candle here where I type, and pause, and try 5 Minutes of Love. But first I’ll post.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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2 Responses to Light One Candle

  1. Erin W says:

    Yes! So hard to know what to do with the waves of human sadness other than take some action beyond words. Not trite at all. Maybe it’s the best of what makes us human: As David Whyte says, “Actually you are meant to get your heart broken as a human being, no matter which way you turn.” (

  2. Angela says:

    Love it! I believe in cathartic value of a good rage at the elements and the power of candlelight. Thanks for this lovely post.

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